Background: Hepatic artery embolization (HAE) is a palliative treatment for patients with liver metastases from neuroendocrine tumours. HAE reduces hormonal symptoms, but its impact on survival has been questioned.
Methods: Biochemical responses and survival in consecutive patients with disseminated liver metastases from midgut carcinoid tumours were studied after HAE. Repeat HAE was performed in selected patients with radiological and biochemical signs of progression.
Results: Of 107 patients who had HAE, the median survival from the first procedure was 56 (range 1-204) months. Prolonged survival showed a strong correlation with reduction of urinary 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (P = 0.003) and plasma chromogranin A (P = 0.001) levels. The biochemical response to repeat HAE was similar to that for the first procedure (P = 0.002). The complication rate was low (7.5 per cent), as was the mortality rate (1.9 per cent) within 1 month of HAE.
Conclusion: HAE is safe, provides good control of hormonal symptoms, and prolongs survival in biochemically responsive patients. It is a valuable palliative option for patients with midgut carcinoid syndrome due to liver metastases and can be repeated in patients with a favourable response to the first procedure.
2009 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.